By: Liza Cranis
March 3, 2018
FolkWorks Review by Art Podell
Tracy Newman is one of my oldest and dearest friends. My temerity in breaking tradition and attempting an objective review of this album is eclipsed by the truth that regardless of friendship, Tracy Newman’s creative abilities have occupied the top rung of my esteem for quite some time. I am blessed with talented friends and have been so throughout my career. Simply posited: might I be prejudiced by our friendship? Most likely! I’ll take what comes of it. OK? Now read on . . .
Tracy is a perfectionist when it comes to execution. Her voice is simple, clear and lyric-centric (my term – feel free to use it). The one thing you will not hear in a Tracy Newman performance is a lyric sacrificed for the sake of vocal ‘tricks’ or self-serving nuance as seems to be the practice of many these days. If you don’t recognize what I’ve just mentioned, don’t worry. It’s a ‘thing’ with me. Read on . . .
That’s What Love Can Do to Your Heart is a collection of songs written by Tracy, some with collaborators. The title song That’s What Love Can Do to Your Heart was written completely by her masterful friend Richard Goldman, who shares credits with Tracy elsewhere on the CD. One Way Road, the CD’s closing song was written by Bobby Kimmel, one of the legendary sixties group The Stone Poneys. Three of the songs were co-written with Cori Bishop. A complete track listing appears below along with credits.
What struck me first was the completeness of the songs – no loose ends, all manicured to professional perfection. Tracy’s choice of collaborators and her own lyric choices reflect the years she spent writing network television – long hours in the company of seasoned professionals making sure every line of script read effortlessly. The ability to ‘create’ is surely a gift but the ability to step back from one’s creation and evaluate it clinically is a special talent and it has brought Tracy to a level that is rare in today’s company of singer/songwriters. Simply put, Tracy Newman’s songwriting skills are what we’ve come to call ‘professional’. Simpler yet, she’s a pro.(see addendum below)
Most all the songs on the album are love songs that almost any good singer can sing with believability. They make for effortless listening. I’ll leave it to the listener to pick favorites. The time spent will be worth it. My favorites happen to be ones written solely by Tracy. They have a ‘signature’ originality that conforms to Tracy’s unique story telling instinct. Alone is a great example. Surprise after surprise as the story unfolds – a series of listener smiles with each. Now is another. By the time the last line of the song hits you, you realize that the ghost of Roy Orbison has been haunting the track all along. Double whammy! Lie Down Darlin’, co-written with Cori Bishop has the makings of a standard. I found myself singing along with it on the first listen.
That’s What Love Can Do to Your Heart is an easy 45:31 minutes spent with earphones or on a drive – guaranteed to bring a smile, a chuckle, and a sigh. It’s called music and no one kicks the camera or the microphone to interrupt the show. It will be time well spent.
The collection has been a long time coming according to Tracy. This will be her third ‘adult’ CD (Tracy has a collection of Children’s CD/Coloring Books that she is releasing under the aegis of her new company ‘Run Along Home’ – formed with her graphic artist daughter Charlotte Dean.) Her previous two ‘adult’ CDs A Place In The Sun’ (2007) and I Just See You (2012) are her more recent works. All three albums feature Tracy’s serendipitous association with her group The Reinforcements with whom she performed regularly. The previous two CDs contained songs written exclusively by her. As to this new/old CD That’s What Love Can Do to Your Heart, Tracy writes:
“The co-writes were all written in the 1970s and ‘80s. Wake Me Up was written in the 1960s. The other ones that I wrote alone are all recent… like from maybe 5 years ago. One Way Road (Bobby Kimmel) is one I wish I’d written. Same with the title song, by Richard Goldman. The timing of this CD: Honestly, I’ve been sitting on the master of this CD for about 2 years. I wasn’t performing these songs live very much, so I felt weird about putting out a CD without more recent songs that I do all the time. Then, I just thought – what the hell. Why am I sitting on this CD? Just put it out there. Jim Dean (my ex) put the artwork together immediately, and I sent it off to be duplicated before I had much time to think about it. I actually really love all the songs on this CD. There are no funny songs on here, though. I mean, people are used to hearing me do comedy songs in my shows, so it felt odd to put out a CD with no comedy. But again, I just decided to go for it.”
‘Going for it’ has never been a problem for Tracy . . . there you have it.
1. Two Hearts (Cori Bishop/Tracy Newman)
2. Flowers and Words of Love (Tracy Newman)
3. Angel of A Man (Cori Bishop/Tracy Newman)
4. Lie Down Darlin’ (Cori Bishop/Tracy Newman)
5. That’s What Love Can Do To Your Heart (Richard Goldman)
6. Last Time (Richard Goldman/Tracy Newman)
7. So Many Letters (Tracy Newman)
8. Alone (Tracy Newman)
9. Now (Tracy Newman)
10. Wake Me Up (Tracy Newman)
11. One Way Road (Bobby Kimmel)
Pat McGrath – Acoustic Guitar (1-11 except 8), – mandolin (4,6)
Jason Roller – Guitar (8)
Dave Francis – Upright Bass (1-11 except 8)
Brian Fullen – Drums (2,6)
Russ Pahl – Dobro (1,2,5,7,10,11) – Pedal Steel (9)
Dennis Wage – Accordion (2)
Robbie Turner – Steel (4)
John O’Kennedy –Weisenborn (6) – Dobro (8)
Doug Knoll – Drums (8)
John Cartwright– Bass (8)
Eric Schwartz – Piano (3) – BG Vocals (3)
Anna Montgomery – BG Vocals (3)
Lorie Doswell – BG Vocals (all except 8,10)
Gene Lippman – BG Vocals (all except 5)
Laraine Newman – BG Vocals (5)
Travis A. Childress – BG Vocals (7)
Rebecca Zoe Leigh – BG Vocals (8)
The CD was produced by Travis Allen Childress at Phat Marv’s in Nashville.
Mixer was Michael Frondelli. Album photography by James F. Dean
Additional information is supplied on the CD jacket.
For information contact Tracy through her website.
That’s What Love Can Do To Your Heart can be found at:
Years ago, this reviewer was Professional Manager of a major music publishing company. When the rare song writer came along who had the ability to write inspired songs with no loose ends, he or she was taken very seriously. One of those who walked through my office door was young Paul Williams whom I helped bring to contract almost immediately. He was both creator and clinical observer with the ability to edit as well as create prolifically. Tracy is that kind of writer who would have been signed back then in a heartbeat.
Art Podell was one half of the iconic Greenwich Village duo Art and Paul before moving to L.A. in 1961. An original member of the New Christy Minstrels, Art wrote songs for many of the artists of the day. He continues to perform and write and he rotates as a host of KPFK’s Roots Music and Beyond.